How to write podcast show notes that attract new listeners

Computer monitor being impaled by a computer keyboard, which is being impaled by a pencil next to a coffee mug

You’ve decided to start a podcast. You’ve booked interviews, written scripts, recorded, edited, mixed the audio, maybe even added some sound design. But when it’s time to post the first episode, you’re faced with one more hurdle: your podcast show notes. 

After all that work, you might be tempted to write a couple of lines explaining what the episode is about and hit “publish.” But for the sake of your audience—both current and potential—it’s worth putting more thought into it. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing podcast show notes that will make new listeners want to give your show a try.

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What are podcast show notes?

Show notes, also known as episode descriptions, are the text that’s posted alongside the audio content of an episode. This text generally includes a brief summary of the podcast episode, any content warnings, and a link to the transcript of the episode. You can also include guest bios and crew information, links to the podcast website, social media handles—the sky’s the limit.

Well, almost. Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes) limit show notes pages to 4,000 characters, and most podcast apps (like Spotify) will add an expandable “see more” link after about 100 characters. That means you should put what’s eye-catching and important first, and avoid writing five-paragraph essays. 

Why are podcast show notes important?

Enhance search engine optimization (SEO)

No matter the size of your show, the goal is to get your audience to find it. You could create the best podcast in the world, but if no one can find it in the sea of millions of others, it won’t be a successful podcast. Show notes are a great way to include search engine optimization (SEO) tactics that help your target audience find your podcast.

Improve listener engagement and social sharing

Show notes can provide specific details for each episode, from specific topics and guests to timestamps indicating what’s being covered at every point in the episode. With that level of detail, listeners can go through your show notes to find the guest they love, the topic they want to hear more about, or the spot they want to quote on social media—all of which increase your engagement. 

Builds community and trust

If you're covering very technical or fact-heavy material, show notes are a great place to cite sources and additional reading material on the topics you covered in your episode. It shows listeners they can trust your information.

Along with that, you can add calls to action (CTAs) that encourage listeners to follow your show on social media or join community groups. You can also use the show note space to make announcements and present special events for your listeners. 

For example, the True Crime Obsessed podcast has a large fanbase that follows the show and the Obsessed network, so they created an Obsessed fest for fans to come together and be a part of a community—and promoted it in their show notes. 

Writing better podcast show notes: 9 best practices

  1. Start with your hook
  2. Expand your description
  3. Provide guest, cast, and crew information
  4. Connect your audience with relevant resources
  5. Include calls to action
  6. Incorporate keywords for SEO
  7. Summarize key points
  8. Add timestamps for major segments
  9. Highlight upcoming episodes or events 

1. Start with your hook

The hook of your podcast show notes should be short but sweet, a sentence or two to answer the questions "What is this episode about?" and "Why should I listen?" 

When someone is deciding if they should press play on your show, they might look at a few episode descriptions to get an idea of what to expect. This is a chance to draw those people in.

Here are some examples of enticing podcast episode descriptions:

  • “In the early morning of August 5, 2001, artist Richard Ankrom and a group of friends assembled on the 4th Street bridge over the 110 freeway in Los Angeles. They had gathered to commit a crime.”Episode 288 of 99% Invisible
  • “There's a certain lo-fi feel to Jungle Brothers' debut effort, Straight Out The Jungle. The group made the record at home using early sampling technology, but its influence is undeniable.”Episode 183 of Heat Rocks
  • “This week, we welcome back Diallo Riddle to discuss one of Mississippi’s largest state-wide corruption cases. It involves millions in state welfare funds misappropriated to powerful state officials, pro-wrestlers, and former athletes including Brett Favre.” Episode 160 of Scam Goddess

2. Expand your description 

At this point, you’ve likely passed 100 characters. From here on, you’re writing to potential listeners who are already invested in hearing the episode. They’ve clicked “see more,” and they could already be listening as they read. 

At this point, you could cover the key points and takeaways in a podcast summary. Tools like Descript can automatically generate a podcast summary within seconds, so you don’t need to remember every topic that was covered.

If you’re covering a sensitive topic or including themes that some may find upsetting, this is where you should include content/trigger warnings—which I’m starting to call “content notes” because they’re less of a warning and more of a heads up about what’s in an episode. 

Content notes will allow a listener to go in prepared to hear some difficult material. If you’re not sure, you can always look up lists of common trigger warnings. But remember, most lists aren’t written with the audio medium in mind. If you have a startling sound, such as a jump scare, gunshot, or scream, that’s worth including in the notes. 

Fiction podcasters may be worried about episode spoilers when it comes to content notes—if that’s the case, your content notes can go at the bottom. 

You could also expand your podcast description by adding a link to the transcript. If you’ve used Descript to edit your podcast, this step is done—you just need to paste the transcript to the site of your choice. 

But even if you use a different audio editor, transcripts are an essential accessibility tool and can boost your podcast SEO. Don’t skip them! 

Some podcast players don’t show hyperlinks, so creating a short URL for your transcript page that can be easily copy/pasted is ideal. 

Image of podcast transcript example generated by Descript

3. Provide guest, cast, and crew information

Podcast show notes are a place to credit everyone involved in the episode’s production. Don’t stop at the front-facing roles of host or podcast guest—include researchers, writers, editors, producers, and even interns. 

If you want each person to stand out, you can list names with bullet points, which easily distinguish them. Just bear in mind that some platforms don’t show single new lines, and having a paragraph can blur together. 

If your episode primarily focuses on a single guest, you could include a short bio for them in this section.

4. Connect your audience with relevant resources

If you have other episodes on similar topics as the one you’re writing show notes for, you can include them in this section and cross-promote your back catalog. Many podcast episodes are evergreen, and this is a great way to encourage newer listeners to experience old episodes.

If your episode is on a heavy topic or issue, you could include additional resources from outside of your own podcast in this section. Examples could be crisis hotlines, in-depth articles expanding on the topic, or donation links for nonprofits addressing the issue. 

On a lighter note, your show notes can also be a space for smaller announcements too. Is your podcast taking a week off? Are you going on a season hiatus? Did you launch a new website? Include that information in the show notes as well.

💡Tip: Not all podcast apps treat links the same way, and a few won't recognize rich text links. If there's an essential link you want to make sure every listener can click, it's better to paste in the entire URL.

5. Don’t forget your calls to action

It should be easy for listeners to engage with your show. Providing these links helps reduce the work your audience has to do to support your podcast, which means more people are likely to engage. That could mean:

  • Following you on social media
  • Subscribing to your email list 
  • Tipping you via Patreon or Ko-fi
  • Buying your merch
  • Shopping through your affiliate links

Take this podcast description for an episode of New Heights. Viewers can shop the podcast’s merch and support their sponsors from the show notes:

Just try to prevent this section from becoming too overwhelming—too many options can make it harder for listeners to choose which to click. Consider picking one item for each episode and giving it the spotlight. 

6. Incorporate keywords for SEO

There are over 150 million podcast episodes in the world, and that number is increasing every day—which means you need to do everything you can to help your audience find you. 

Use SEO and keywords in your show notes to encourage search engine and social media algorithms to bring your podcast episode to the people searching for your content. 

Do a little research and find the hashtags and terms that people are searching for when trying to find content like yours. Keep the copy of your show notes simple. Complicated copy can confuse your audience as well as the search engines. 

7. Add timestamps for major segments

One nice addition is to use timestamps in your show notes. This will help listeners get straight to the content they’re looking for, rather than having to scrub through endless audio.

For interview and chat shows, add key topics with jump links to each section in the show notes. 

8. Highlight upcoming episodes or events

Mention special events in your show notes. If it’s a time-sensitive event, you might want to repeat information about it several times. The best way to make sure the announcement sticks is to present it in the show itself and in the show notes.

The show notes are also a great place to tease upcoming episodes so listeners are ready for the next one. You might say, "Tune in next Tuesday to hear this special guest's interview” to spark interest and get more listeners. 

The show notes for You're Wrong About include a hook, guest links, citations, and plenty of resources and calls to action.
The show notes for You're Wrong About include a hook, guest links, citations, and plenty of resources and calls to action.

Podcast show notes templates

  • Episode title: Remember to include SEO keywords and phrases if you can.
  • Episode description: Start with a hook, then follow with a brief summary.
  • Timestamps: Include a list of the main points discussed and where in the episode listeners can find them.
  • Guest bio: If you have a guest, this is where you’d include their information. You can also include cast and crew information, if applicable. 
  • Additional resources: Use bullet points to list links to your sources. Include your guests’ websites and social media links, and add any other resources for your listeners (like hotlines).
  • Episode transcript: Include a link to the (edited) podcast transcript. Use timestamped headings to break up the transcript into different sections.
  • CTAs, teasers, and announcements: Include links to all the podcast platforms where people can listen to your show, plus links to your social media, Patreon/membership sites, or website. Also, include any announcements or teasers for upcoming shows.

Save time on podcast show notes with AI

Even with the best templates in the world, writing your own show notes can be a slog. These days, AI tools can save you time and headache by generating show notes automatically. 

Descript, for example, will automatically transcribe the audio of your podcast episode, then generate show notes for you from the information in the transcript. 

It’s a free feature and you can also easily revise the result or ask for different tones of voice, like formal, academic, or more conversational. It also automatically provides timestamps. No need to go through and painstakingly scrub your audio.

Have tools like Descript make show notes for you, so you can focus on creating.

Podcast show notes FAQs

How do you get show notes from a podcast?

That will depend on the platform or podcast directory you are using to listen to your podcast. On some apps, you can find show notes right under the episode title, while others require you to click on a link to get to the summary of the episode and the rest of the show notes.

What should I put in my podcast show notes?

You should include the names of hosts, guests, crew, main points of the episode, any warnings, additional resources, and CTAs.

Is there a way to generate podcast show notes?

There are a number of AI tools that can generate show notes from your episode transcript. Descript has this capability built into its podcast editor.

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